Album Review: Assumption – “Hadean Tides”

Written by Kep

Assumption – Hadean Tides
Death/doom from Italy
Releasing May 20 via Everlasting Spew Records 

Here’s a question I’ve addressed on Twitter before: what exactly is death/doom? It’s more than just slow death metal, after all. Obviously those deliberate, ponderous tempos are pulled from the doom side of the mix, but doom also has an inherent atmosphere of loneliness, a somber and bleak air that permeates. That’s the magic ingredient in death/doom—it’s the most obvious distinguishing element between bands like Cerebral Rot and Incantation vs. Paradise Lost and Mortiferum—and it’s the thing that stood out to me most in Assumption’s upcoming Hadean Tides.  

The Italian four-piece (formerly a duo, they added a dedicated bassist and a second guitarist in 2021) has always been good at conjuring the right atmosphere and an oppressive, mournful darkness in their massively heavy sound. Their 2018 effort Absconditus was an impressive album top to bottom, full of riffs that alternately wept and roiled and a sweeping progressive scope, but I felt that it was a little bit of an unwieldy listen as a whole due to some meandering moments in the two bookending 15-minute tracks. I loved it, but there was room for improvement. For me, the way to success in Hadean Tides was to keep refining those deliciously melancholy riffs and melodies while also developing a tighter songwriting focus. 

So did they manage it? I’m damn pleased to say that the answer is yes! The 55 minutes of Hadean Tides, spread across seven remarkably diverse tracks that all have something unique to offer, is the kind of listen that never let my mind wander away from the music. Strong songwriting that’s carried by a sharper focus on expanding a few ideas per track, rather than drifting through several as was the case in Absconditus, is the story here. The pacing is mostly stellar, too; the growing progression from churning opener “Oration” all the way through to the strangely worshipful “Triptych” serves to perfectly set up the ultimate towering dirges of lengthy closer “Black Trees Waving”, though there’s one odd ambient track midway through that I’m not sure is a successful choice.

I really can’t speak highly enough of the growth of this project from that songwriting perspective. Tracks like “Oration” and “The Liquescent Hours” show off Assumption’s ability to seamlessly slip filthy death metal riffs into moments of crushing doom, mournful solos, or blackened tremolo melodies and then transition right back again without a hitch. The title track is a damn death/doom riff-fest, a crushing seven-minute monster that comes to a psychedelic cooldown in its final minute, which flawlessly leads into the trudging funeral lament of “Daughters of the Lotus”, 

Album art by Mariya Popyk

It’s the last couple of tracks on the record, though, where things really get memorable. “Triptych” is one of the coolest songs I’ve heard this year, featuring haunting ostinato clean vocals—on a single pitch!—from frontmanGiorgio Trombino almost exlusively. While Trombino reverently intones some truly cryptic and inscrutable lyrics, bassist Claudio Troise leads in carrying the music motions and melodies. Sometimes it’s groovy as hell, others it’s mostly just rhythmic, but it’s captivating at all times. There are passages featuring the band’s full texture on two occasions, and a smattering of unusual percussion sounds and pensively colored guitars, plus a surprisingly driving riff that leads to the track’s end. It’s the kind of track that keeps you on your toes and makes you want to come back for more listens, and it’s followed by the absolutely massive “Black Trees Waving”, which is a more oppressive, evil take on the sort of lengthy tracks that bookended Absconditus. The touchpoints as far as sound are the ones you might expect—diSEMBOWELMENT and Evoken are the ones I thought of most—but Assumption is too progressive in scope to get pigeonholed into any one texture for very long. Funeral dirges over enormously heavy chords give way to weeping clean-tone beauty and synths, stygian death growls from the depths of hell step aside to allow for passages of unnaturally deep cleans, and slowly pummeling riffs support larger-than-life solos. 

The few moments on Hadean Tides that don’t work perfectly are mostly a product of this wide-ranging take on the death/doom style. Sometimes a transition from one idea to another doesn’t quite fit as well as it was intended too, and there’s one particularly odd shift in “Black Trees Waving” that almost seems like a false ending to the entire album. The idea of positioning a six-minute ambient/atmospheric track like “Breath of the Daedelus” right smack in the middle of an already-lengthy album is a questionable decision as well, in my opinion. But again, these are the byproduct of such an ambitious record, and they’re the kind that I can absolutely live with when the surrounding material is so excellent. Any band that can range from funeral doom to doom to death metal and throw in a bit of progressive quirkiness as well as Assumption can is forgivable in my book. 


The production is spot on as well, hefty guitar tones that could knock down a stone monolith set pleasingly against those more delicate moments of melody or dirge and supported by an ever-present audible bass with heft of its own. I really dug the sound that recording engineer Manuele Marani got out of David Lucido’s kit: the snare and cymbals have a nicely balanced pop, while the bass drum has that satisfying sort of hollow thunk that feels visceral without taking over the texture. 


Assumption’s newest effort is a two-thumbs up excursion to the planet’s molten core, heavy as the earth’s crust itself and packed full of desolate horrors. It’s also an impressive step forward in songwriting from 2018’sAbsconditus, using a tighter song-by-song focus to keep the outfit’s progressive approach intact while enhancing the listening experience. It’s not a perfect record, but Hadean Tides is one that I can recommend without a single reservation.